Pho­tos for­ever

Fall fam­ily por­traits make for last­ing mem­o­ries

The Chatham Daily News - - LIFE - JODY ROB­BINS POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

With Christ­mas card sea­son just around the cor­ner and the leaves all ablaze, au­tumn is a pop­u­lar time to get fam­ily pho­to­graphs taken. Likely some rel­a­tive with a tricked out cam­era has of­fered to take snaps your fam­ily, but cap­tur­ing mem­o­ries isn’t as easy as it looks. Here’s how to best cap­ture au­then­tic fam­ily mo­ments.

Prep work

By prop­erly pre­par­ing for your photo ses­sion, your fam­ily is more likely to have fun the day of it. Book your ses­sion at least one month in ad­vance — es­pe­cially if you’re aim­ing for that golden hour of light one hour be­fore the sun sets. Sched­ule hair­cuts a week in ad­vance so they have time to set­tle.

Be­sides proper zzz’s the night be­fore, don’t jack the lit­tles up with a trip to the zoo right be­fore your ses­sion. You want ev­ery­one well rested and hy­drated. Tote healthy snacks to en­sure no­body gets hangry. To avoid stained mouths, skip car­rots, beets, candy and bev­er­ages with dye.

Most im­por­tantly, don’t spring this on the kids last minute. Let them know the plan and sched­ule a fun out­ing af­ter­wards, so the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence be­comes a pleas­ant mem­ory.

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

When de­cid­ing where to stage your pho­to­shoot, it helps to have an idea what you’ll ac­tu­ally do with the fi­nal im­ages. Will they be turned into Christ­mas cards, given as framed gifts or printed on can­vas and hung like art?

If go­ing the art route, take into con­sid­er­a­tion your home’s style. His­toric neigh­bour­hoods with pe­riod build­ings are an ap­pro­pri­ate back­drop for her­itage homes. For mod­ern homes, down­town of­fers am­ple park­ing lots and in­trigu­ing re­flec­tions off glass build­ings.

Ac­cord­ing to Rachel Boekel, a life­style pho­tog­ra­pher in Can­more, Alta. any spot your fam­ily fre­quents reg­u­larly should be con­sid­ered, as the im­ages are a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of how you spend your time to­gether. “A cof­fee shop or lo­cal play­ground will look more au­then­tic than, say, a moun­tain back­drop if your fam­ily isn’t out­doorsy,” she says.

What to wear

You don’t want the added stress of leav­ing your wardrobe se­lec­tion un­til the last minute. Start plan­ning what you’ll wear weeks be­fore the ses­sion. Lind­say Ross, a Cal­gary-based life­style pho­tog­ra­pher rec­om­mends hav­ing mom pick out her cloth­ing first. “Women tend to have the hard­est time find­ing their out­fit. Once de­cided, you can build ev­ery­one else’s cloth­ing around hers,” she sug­gests.

Pick a palate and work with two or three colours that com­pli­ment each other. “You want to be com­fort­able and co­or­di­nated, but prob­a­bly not matchy-matchy. There’s a trend away from ev­ery­one wear­ing jeans and white T-shirts,” ad­vises Boekel.

Stay away from dis­tract­ing lo­gos, and bring ac­ces­sories to the shoot. You can al­ways take them off, but adding a jacket, for in­stance, gives a dif­fer­ent look. Tex­tures like lace, wool and cor­duroy are vis­ually more in­ter­est­ing and add an­other di­men­sion.

Main­tain a pos­i­tive out­look

As chal­leng­ing as this sounds, you want to en­joy each other’s com­pany dur­ing the photo ses­sion. Come into it re­laxed and ready to have fun de­spite po­ten­tial hic­cups.

“Don’t worry about your kids act­ing up. Par­ents get stressed with mis­be­haviour and that comes across in the im­ages. Re­al­ize your kids might act out or pout and that’s OK. That’s my job to worry about,” af­firms Ross.

For that one or two hours dur­ing the ses­sion, make like Elsa and let it go. Al­low the pho­tog­ra­pher to guide your fam­ily through the pho­tos with­out you re­sort­ing to bribery.

Choos­ing the right pho­tog­ra­pher

Life­style pho­tog­ra­phy is a sat­u­rated mar­ket and be­ing un­reg­u­lated, prices are all over the map. Be­gin by ask­ing for re­fer­rals, and check out the pho­tog­ra­pher’s work on­line — In­sta­gram and Face­book, too. When you make your in­quiry, be clear about what you’re af­ter — es­pe­cially if you want to re­tain the dig­i­tal files.

A good pho­tog­ra­pher will break down their pack­ages, pric­ing and pro­vide you with tips on what to wear, how to pre­pare for the ses­sion and lo­ca­tion sug­ges­tions. They should also in­quire about your fam­ily be­fore­hand — your kid’s ages, what they’re into and how you spend your free time to­gether. Af­ter all, you want your fam­ily cap­tured as their most nat­u­ral selves, right?

RACHEL BOEKEL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Jessie and Steve Ash­ton spend time play­ing with their kids in Can­more, Al­berta.

LIND­SAY ROSS PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

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